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Heartbreak in Turkey's Diyarbakir as development transforms ancient Sur

The Turkish government promised to rebuild Diyarbakir and its ancient heart of Sur, but its modern plans offer both insult and injury to the city's heritage.
An excavator wrecks a building as part of an urban transformation project as police officers look on in Sur neighborhood in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RC1846086EB0
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"Had the civilization here dated back 70,000 years instead of 7,000, the same thing would have happened," said Serefhan Aydin, the president of the Chamber of Architects in Diyarbakir. Aydin looked resigned as he gazed around the ancient town that resembled a building site.

Aydin is one of the many locals who lament the brutal urban transformation plan for Diyarbakir’s ancient heart, the area known as Sur, which literally means “fortress walls” in Turkish. The fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape was placed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in June 2015. The fortified city was an important cultural center and regional capital during the Hellenistic, Roman, Sassanid and Byzantine times, through the Islamic and Ottoman periods to the present, according to its description on the UNESCO website.

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